Versailles – The infamous palace is as opulent as one can imagine. The estate is grand on an epic scale. Louis XIV’s masterpiece is situated just outside of Paris. It’s close proximity to the capital also makes the sun god’s palace a very popular day trip. So popular in fact that the palace of Versailles receives around 7 million tourists a year. The sheer amount of guests awards Versailles 4th place in the rankings of most visited palaces in the world behind Bejing’s Forbidden City, Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the Louvre.
Whilst it is understandable why so many people wish to visit the hall of mirrors, the symmetrical gardens and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet it can be frustrating pushing through the constant crowds. It can be even harder to attempt to take photos without any other tourists in them. Yet there is a way. Actually, there are several ways.
This post on how to take amazing photos at Versailles will help you plan your perfect trip to Versailles. Firstly we will focus on what time to visit the palace of Versailles to avoid the crowds. Secondly, we will describe how to take photos without the annoying crowds spoiling them, specifically in the popular Hall of Mirrors.
Read on to see how you can take a photo like this without the crowds.
There are several ways to take photos without other people in them. Some of them involve timing your visit to Versailles just right. Which day is the best day to visit? What time should you arrive at Versailles? Alternatively, you can simply accept that there are crowds and use these helpful tips and tricks on how to take the photos cleverly.
In terms of which days are the least busy at Versailles, aim for mid-week. The best days to visit are Wednesday and Thursday. Do not visit on Mondays as the palace is shut on Mondays. Furthermore, many museums in Paris are shut on Tuesdays, therefore, Tuesdays tend to be quite busy at Versailles. Of course, days on which the fountains are switched on are also busier. However, do not worry too much about which day to visit as there will still be thousands of people there regardless on which day you visit. As this is fairly out of your hands you should focus more on exactly what time to arrive at the palace. There are three different options depending on which photo you are desperate to obtain. Would you rather see the hall of mirrors without crowds or are you more interested in seeing the gardens or Marie Antoinette’s hamlet with fewer tourists?
Arrive as early as you can
the early bird catches the best photo
For all the morning people out there, this is the best option for you. Aim to arrive as soon as the palace opens. Head straight for the hall of mirrors as this tends to be the most crowded place later on. Then escape to the gardens and enjoy it whilst everyone else who have just arrived are queuing to enter the palace. Most other bloggers and travel website advise this option as the best way to enjoy the palace of Versailles.
- This option is great if you are a morning person and are desperate to take a photo of the hall of mirrors without the crowds.
- If you arrive as early as you can you will still only have an hour or so before the hoards arrive.
- You will have to weigh up whether you need the extra hour of sleep or not. Is it worth it if you will just be irritated and tired all day? If you really need your beauty sleep read on for the next option!
If you are looking for a palace without the hundreds of tourists, read Is Château de Chantilly better than Versailles? for a day trip to a beautiful crowd-free chateau just north of Paris.
Avoid the peak of midday
For the sleepy heads amongst us save the palace until later
For the sleepy heads amongst us or those who have enjoyed a full packed itinerary of exploring Paris for the past few days, this could be the option for you. Enjoy a lie in and a leisurely breakfast or brunch before heading over to Versailles after midday. Visit the gardens first then head into the palace just an hour or so before the last entrance. Most visitors will be outside by this point meaning you can see the rooms without many crowds.
- This option is perfect if you do not want to commit a full day of pushing and shoving. You can see the interior without the crowds and still enjoy a couple of hours outside before closing.
- Early evening can also be a wonderful time to take those incredible sunset photos.
- The downside of this option of course, is that you have less time to explore the entire site, which is gigantic.
- Furthermore, you may have to double track and rush certain parts of the garden or Trianon estate to hurry back to the hall of mirrors to then go back into the gardens later.
Accept the crowds in the palace of Versailles but enjoy crowd-free Trianon
Crowd-free trip to the Trianon Estate and incredible evening photos of the gardens
When Alex and I visited Versailles a few weeks ago we did option 3 and it worked very well for us. We arrived at Versailles around 1 / 2pm due to train delays, oh Paris you love your strikes! After our arrival, we headed to the palace entrance and queued for around 20 minutes. I did not realise this queue was solely for the palace as we had originally intended to explore the gardens first. The receptionist advised us to stay in the palace, so we would not have to queue again! This meant we had entered the palace at peak time!
It was busy, very busy. It is still possible to take wonderful photos of many of the rooms as they are cordoned off. For example, you can enjoy the chapel without any tourists ruining your shots. similarly, the beautiful bedrooms are also easy to take photos of due to barriers.
The hall of mirrors is a very different story however! It was almost impossible to take a photo without another person in it! Alex cleverly managed to take some fantastic shots of me. Click here for tips on how to take great photos in the hall of mirrors and elsewhere at Versailles during peak time.
We spent just over an hour in the palace with a brief break outside before entering the female quarters. Then we walked through the gardens and headed to the Trianon estate. The gardens were quite busy, and we made it to Trianon just before 5 pm. By this time most people had left the estate and we had the Grand Trianon palace to ourselves!
The Estate of Trianon was built as an escape away from the palace. I would highly recommend visiting this part of Versailles. There is the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, the gardens around these and of course Marie Antoinette’s idyllic hamlet.
The Grand Trianon is lovely, full of gorgeous rooms and no crowds to push past. I actually preferred the gardens in Trianon as there were far more flowers than in the strict symmetry of the gardens just by the palace of Versailles. Also, there were very few tourists in the gardens after 5pm even though they are open until 7 pm.
Make sure you visit the queen’s hamlet even if it is a strange place and highlights the discrepancy between the harsh reality of the peasants and the fantasy the Royals had built themselves. There were still a few tourists here but not many. It was very easy to take crowd free photos at the hamlet in the late afternoon.
Trianon is also very large, and its much more natural layout makes it easier to get lost meaning we did not leave Trianon until 7:30! Luckily a friendly security guard let us out as we apologised.
Back in the gardens of the palace of Versailles, the flora was bathed in a golden light. It was much quieter than earlier and most of the tourists had left. Only a few remained joined by some local couples who were enjoying the evening sun.
It was very easy to take lovely photos in the gardens without people in them after 7 pm.
Furthermore, the highlight of saving the gardens until last is that you can get an incredible shot of the palace of Versailles which will make all of your Instagram followers jealous.
- By visiting the gardens and Trianon in the late afternoon and early evening you can take advantage of fewer crowds.
- Another advantage is that the late afternoon sun is amazing for dreamy photos.
- You have around 3 hours of crowd-free Versailles in the evening.
- There will be seemingly hundreds of people in the hall of mirrors around midday and early afternoon
- We rushed around the Trianon estate a little as we had arrived so late. I had no idea how big the site of Versailles was!
- Personally, arriving after midday meant we could have a good lunch in Paris before arriving and would not lose time and save our pennies eating at the palace. As it was a beautiful summers day I wanted to take full advantage of the golden hours. The only real disappointment was being pushed around the hall of mirrors but we both knew how busy it was going to be!
How to take amazing photos in the Hall of Mirrors without the crowds during peak times
Perhaps none of the options above appeal to you. Maybe you can’t get up very early or you have children to get ready. Maybe by late afternoon, you would like to head back to Paris meaning your visit will be during peak hours. Don’t worry these handy tips will help you take great photos without other tourists.
Tip 1: Get low
Your photographer will have many small workouts throughout the day. By asking your photographer to bend down you can face away from them and gaze towards the spot you would like to be in the image. That way this will cut out any tourists in the near or far distance. Also, by facing away you avoid the awkward double chin that a low angle can create!
Tip 2: Get high
Similarly, to above but the opposite. By raising your camera above the crowds, you can cut them out of the frame. A selfie stick may help the smaller amongst us to achieve this affect.
Tip 3: Be patient
Sometimes you just have to wait if there is something particular you wish to stand next to and others are by it. You can try asking but with the sheer amount of people you just have to dive in when you can!
Tip 4: Macro is your friend
Macro is a great feature and can turn any annoying tourist into an artistic blob. You can also do this afterwards in a photo editing programme. This is particularly helpful in the hall of mirrors.
Thanks for reading!
Hope you found this helpful for planning your trip to one of the most visited palaces in the world! If your inner castle wanderlust has been inspired there are so many beautiful castles to visit near Paris such as in the Loire Valley.
What are your top photography tips when visiting a very popular tourist spot? Let me know in the comments below!